Three Senate GOP chairmen raise concerns over Comey’s dismissal

Three Senate GOP chairmen raise concerns over Comey’s dismissal

Three Senate Republican chairmen with oversight of national security issues signaled Tuesday evening their concern over the sudden termination of FBI Director James Comey in the midst of his agency’s investigation of Russia’s influence over the White House.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to produce 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that he was “disappointed in the president’s decision to remove James Comey from office.”

He said the unexpected dismissal in the midst of a probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible Russian government ties to senior advisers to President Trump warrants the appointment of a special prosecutor.

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“I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” McCain said. “The president’s decision to remove the FBI director only confirms the need and the urgency for such a committee.”

Joining McCain, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.) signaled Tuesday night that he is also concerned about the surprise development.

“While the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions,” said Corker, whose panel has examined efforts by Russia to influence elections.

Corker said it’s “essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion.”

He added that “it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSeven-figure ad campaign urges GOP to support infrastructure bill Senate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-N.C.) also said he is “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”

He praised Comey as “a public servant of the highest order,” and said “his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.”

“His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation,” he added.

Comey told senators before he was fired that the FBI was investigating members of Trump’s administration for possible ties to the Russian influence on the election.

But he declined to reveal during direct questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee whether the president himself was a target of the investigation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump asks court to block release of tax returns to Congress | Private sector adds 330K jobs in July, well short of expectations Senate panel advances first three spending bills McConnell lays out GOP demands for government-funding deal MORE (R-Ky.) has tasked the Senate Intelligence Committee with investigating Russia’s influence in the 2016 election, but Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to handle the probe.

Now Democrats hope that Republicans in addition to McCain, such as Corker or Burr, might be persuaded to back a special independent investigation.

But other Republicans gave Trump political cover on Tuesday night. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyKaine says he has votes to pass Iraq War repeal in Senate Biden's ATF nominee on shaky ground in Senate Axne endorses Finkenauer Senate bid in Iowa MORE (R-Iowa) said Comey’s leadership on an array of controversial issues, including an investigation into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBriahna Joy Gray: Progressives like Turner should reconsider running as Democrats Biden wishes Obama a happy birthday Ohio special election: A good day for Democrats MORE’s handing of classified information, gave Trump cause for action.

“Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey’s decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin Graham19 House Democrats call on Capitol physician to mandate vaccines The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Simone wins bronze with altered beam routine The job of shielding journalists is not finished MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary panel’s Crime and Terrorism subcommittee, said “a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.”